Tom Dumoulin said pulling out of the Tour de France “felt like a relief.”
The Dutch star had been rushing a return from injury in order to compete for the 2019 Tour title, but has announced he will not race after accepting his recovery has not progressed enough.
Dumoulin, who finished second in France last year, suffered a deep gash to his left knee during the opening week of the Giro d’Italia last month, and was forced to abandon the race the following day.
The Sunweb leader told Dutch broadcaster NOS: “I was like a wounded, mad bull on the Tour after the Giro.
“It felt like a relief. I have never regretted it for a moment. I just can’t make it anymore. I have a wound in my knee. Since my fall in the Giro, I have been in a rehabilitation process and not in a process to win the Tour in good shape.”
Dumoulin was involved in a crash on stage four of the Giro, suffering a wound to his knee and finishing the stage with blood pouring down his leg.
He started the following day but abandoned the race after just 1.5km, then being forced to spend a week off the bike due to the injury.
Dumoulin had planned to ride both the Tour and the Giro, but his crash meant he turned his focus to the French Grand Tour.
After enforced rest, he returned to racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné where he was active but not a contender for the overall, before pulling out ahead of stage seven.
After minor surgery, the 28-year-old was then due to ride an altitude camp in the Alps, but during the drive he decided to turn around and head home.
He then announced on Thursday (June 20) that he would not be racing the Tour.
Dumoulin is the second rider from the 2018 podium who has been forced to skip the Tour, after Chris Froome (Team Ineos) suffered a horrific crash during the Dauphiné and is still in hospital.
Last year’s winner and Froome’s team-mate Geraint Thomas has also suffered crash misfortune, when he was caught during a fall in the Tour de Suisse and was forced to abandon.
Thomas suffered a cut to his eye but has been given the all clear the race the Tour.
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